Mar 7, 2023
By: Katrina Culp, Social Media Marketing Manager
Celebrity brands are not a new phenomenon. From Fenty Beauty to Skims, we see the rise of celebrity branding across the board. Celebrities have been finding new ways to keep their fans and followers interested while keeping themselves relevant and banking the profits. It begs the question, how are brands attached to such large celebrity names affected by inevitable celeb drama?
If you are well-versed in pop culture and internet drama, you have most-likely seen or heard about the recent Selena Gomez versus Hailey Bieber ‘feud.’ This conflict has been brewing for years and fans seem to always find ways to pit the women against each other. This is for a number of reasons, the most obvious being the common denominator: Justin Bieber. Although one could also argue that the media just loves to compare two successful women and create drama… but that’s an issue for another day.
The controversy has come to a head recently as fans have argued that Bieber has been subtly throwing shade at Gomez online. Though neither of the women have spoken to this recent controversy, the internet has been quick to choose sides, and make it known whose side they are on. TikTok in particular has been flooded with an influx of content from invested fans. The overarching narrative has painted Hailey Bieber in a negative light while fans seem to be siding with Gomez.
You may be asking: why should I care? As a branding agency, we are always interested in how pop culture events link to the world of branding. So we propose the question: what does this Hailey vs. Selena internet drama mean for the future of both of their beauty brands: Rare Beauty and Rhode Skin?
Selena Gomez’s beauty brand, Rare Beauty, was founded in 2019 and launched in September of 2020, following the release of her album of the same name. With similar messaging to the album, Rare Beauty promotes the idea of internal beauty and embracing everything that makes you unique, physically and beyond. In its first year on the market, Rare Beauty made a whopping $60 million in revenue. The brand has since grown and gained even more popularity in the past two years and has won countless awards. Rare beauty continues to sell out regularly in Sephoras across the globe, becoming one of the most popular beauty brands on the market right now.
Rhode Skin by Hailey Bieber launched more recently, hitting the market in June of 2022. Bieber integrated her ‘clean’ beauty aesthetic into the brand with the central message being “less is more,” with a focus on the importance of skincare in the beauty world. The brand has performed well so far. “Since launch, it’s attracted a waitlist of 700,000 people for all three of its products. Rhode’s 2022 revenue is “on track” to hit eight figures, Bieber said, but declined to provide specifics,” Forbes reports.
Both of the brands have undoubtedly performed well. Seeing as they are attached to some of today’s most famous celebrity names, we can understand how these brands have had such success. However, it will be interesting to watch how this recent internet frenzy unfolds and if it will affect the sales of the brands. Though no reports have been released on a recognizable difference in sales yet, we can already see commentary on TikTok from people that have sided with Selena Gomez in this controversy. In a TikTok from user: thickbrunette66, we see countless comments from fans expressing their support of Selena’s brand or exclaiming how this has pushed them to try Rare Beauty.
It has also been reported that Hailey Bieber has lost almost one million followers on Instagram while Selena Gomez has gained over 10 million new followers in less than a week following this whole situation. It is evident that public perceptions of each of the women have changed and reputations have been affected. Will this have a direct impact on the reputations of the brands? Will Rare Beauty sales increase and Rhode Skin sales decrease? Does a loss in trust in a celebrity’s integrity translate to a loss in that celebrity’s brand revenue? As we witness this drama continue to unravel, time will tell how their brands are affected.
Celebrity branding has proven itself to be a tricky market to navigate. Though the brands can be wildly successful due to the recognition of the celebrity’s career, it is necessary to note that that same aspect could be the pitfall of the brand if that celebrity is suddenly under fire in the public eye. It begs the question if these brands have the ability to stand on their own merits and the importance of building support and finding relevance for brands outside of the big names they represent.